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11/15/2013 | Nashville, Tenn. (Memorial Gym) | Attendance: 8416
Friday, November 15, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If it was a matter of desire or who played harder on Friday night, then the Lipscomb men’s basketball team would have easily came out on top of the scoreboard. Heart does not equate to points on the scoreboard however, and the Bisons came up short 80-69 to Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt on Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium in the “Music City.”
“I thought our guys played really hard and gave ourselves a chance to win,” said Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander. “We were outsized, outmanned, really a little bit out everything but I don’t think they had a bigger heart than we did to stay in the game as long as we did.”
After spotting the Commodores (2-0) a 9-0 lead right out of the gate, the Bisons (1-2) refused to let it phase the effort on the court and Lipscomb battled back to a 33-30 deficit at the break. A big part of the intensity was the spark provided by senior guard Khion Sankey, who came off the bench to score 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field including three 3-pointers. The veteran also added four rebounds in his 15 minutes of first-half play.
“We answered a lot tonight,” said Alexander. “Vanderbilt had several times to kind of run away from us and we had guys make good individual plays to get us back in the game. I’m proud of our guys’ resilience and sticking with it.”
The game remained tight throughout with Lipscomb taking a 48-46 lead when redshirt freshman guard J.C. Hampton drained his fifth trey of the night with 10:58 to play. The Lipscomb offense would go stagnant at that point however with only one bucket coming from the floor in over ten minutes of action allowing the Dores to gain some breathing room.
Hampton would finish with a game and career high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field including five from downtown. The reigning A-Sun Newcomer of the Week also added five rebounds and five assists. Sankey finished the night with 15 points and five rebounds.
Vanderbilt’s size led to a big advantage on the board for the Commordores with Lipscomb being outrebounded 34-20 after dominating the boards in the first two contests of the season. Lipscomb did manage to win the turnover battle turning 11 Vandy turnovers into 20 points while only coughing the ball up seven times.
Frequent whistles played a large role in the contest as well as the Bisons were whistled for 29 fouls that sent Vanderbilt to the charity stripe 37 times where the Commordores sank 22. Vandy on the other hand was whistled 19 times resulting in 19 free-throw attempts for the purple and gold.
The foul troubles led to four of the Bisons five starters being in foul trouble and significantly impacting the playing minutes and rotation.
“The fouls tonight were really significant,” said Alexander. “We’ve battled that in every contest we’ve played. We’ve emphasized it more and more but we end up having to play guys out of position and longer. It really puts you in a big hole, especially when you’re playing an SEC team.”
Rod Odom led Vanderbilt with a 20-point effort on 8-of-13 shooting while James Siakam added a double-double scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor and adding a game-high 13 rebounds.
With the win Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings became the all-time winningest coach in Vanderbilt history with his 279th career victory.
The Bisons continue road action on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Tennessee State. The game will air live on 94.9 Game 2.
“I told them after the game tonight that the effort is where you always start,” said Alexander. “If you play hard and play together then you’re going to give yourself a chance to win just about every game that you play.
“We’ll be the underdog when we go to TSU on Monday but we’ll be right there with a chance to win if we play as hard as we have to this point in the season.”